RALEIGH, N.C. — Ads for vacation bargains are everywhere. Some are good deals while others have hidden costs, but no matter what, you expect to get everything you pay for. That was not the case for a Wake County woman so she contacted Five On Your Side for help.
Pearl McCollum had never been on a big vacation before, so when she saw an ad for a $249, five-day Disney vacation from Great Escape, she was ready to pack her bags. She bought a package for herself, daughter and grandchildren and prepaid $700. It included rooms and passes to Disney theme parks.
"I saw that price and I thought, 'Oh, I can afford that. I thought it was very special for me to get to go on this trip," McCollum said.
McCollum said her family loaded up the van and drove to Orlando. She said everything was great until they went to pick up their Disney tickets. Great Escape did not have them.
"I thought 'I can't believe this. What kind of company are you all running?' I was very upset," she said.
Instead of tickets, a representative gave McCollum a letter promising a $317 refund within 30 days. That was last June. McCollum said she has repeatedly called Great Escape, but she has gotten nowhere.
"I didn't know what to do and I wanted to do something because I didn't want those people to keep getting by with taking other people's money," she said.
Five On Your Side called Great Escape and found out the company is out of business. However, three former employess started a similar business called Great Orlando Vacations and are refunding customers the money owed by Great Escapes. A company spokesman said McCollum will get her $317 within 30 days.
McCollum said she already knows how she wants to use it.
"Save for the next vacation. I hope I get to go again before I retire," she said.
Great Orlando Vacations is working with the state of Florida to make sure people get refunds. They have a list of about 60 people who are due. The state said, so far, the company has been fullfilling its commitment, even though legally, it does not have to.